An osprey was found dead near a Point Loma roost on Wednesday, December 14, just one week after an area resident saw another osprey dead on Sunset Cliffs Bridge.
The two recent osprey deaths on the peninsula come after a dead osprey with a dart in its chest was found this summer, also on Sunset Cliffs Bridge.
Shawn Steele, who lives near Robb Field and frequently observes birds in the area, was driving across the bridge when he saw an osprey carcass in the road on the afternoon of December 7.
“It did not look like it was hit by a car,” Steele said via email. “No loose feathers. I stopped my car and got a good look at it and could not tell the cause of death.”
After parking at Robb Field and calling the police, Steele walked back to the bridge “and no osprey could be found.” He recalls being gone only 10 minutes.
Separately, on December 14, Sarah Whorley of Project Wildlife said the animal rescue group took in an osprey that appeared to have died earlier that day in Point Loma, near a roost by San Diego Bay.
“We scanned the body for metal and didn’t find any,” Whorley said in an email. The osprey “was bleeding from its mouth, but this could be indicative of any number of injuries (head strike, internal injuries, etc.).”
Steele said in the two days before he spotted the osprey, he saw about a half-dozen dead birds “about 1,000 yards to the west and within 100 feet of each other. Three western grebes, one bufflehead, one pacific loon and three seagulls. Cause of death unknown.”
“In the ten years I have been birding in the area, I have seen a total of two dead birds in the river,” Steele said. “In the last month, I have found 10.”
Long-time Ocean Beach resident Stephen Rowell has photographed the ospreys at Robb Field extensively. Rowell said that back in April, the ospreys’ light-post nest at Robb Field was found on the ground, and “Mom and Dad were sitting on a bare pole up above it.”
Rowell suspects the nest was knocked down and chicks inside were taken. A similar appraisal of the incident appeared in a post on local birding bulletin board CALBIRDS.
On a happier note, Rowell said a young female osprey appeared to establish residence in a recently vacated Robb Field nest on December 14. The female drew three male suitors, who engaged each other in “an aerial battle.” After one of the males managed to chase off the other two, he and the female flew toward the San Diego River together.
“He had to go maybe get a fish or something,” Rowell said.
Whorley of Project Wildlife mentioned an osprey was “found shot” in Rancho Santa Fe in mid-November. That bird — apparently the victim of a pellet gun — sustained a broken wing but survived and is recovering at a wildlife refuge.
Whorley said it’s not uncommon for Project Wildlife to see “raptors that have been shot from all areas of the County.”
|April||osprey nest found on ground in Robb Field; chicks missing|
|August or Sept.||osprey found dead with dart in chest on Sunset Cliffs Bridge|
|mid-November||osprey found shot by pellet gun in Rancho Santa Fe (survived)|
|December 7||osprey found dead of unknown cause on Sunset Cliffs Bridge|
|December 14||osprey found dead of unknown cause near roost in Point Loma|
In spring 2009, I took my camcorder over to Robb Field and filmed “Mom and Dad” as well as a special moment featuring one of their chicks. Stephen Rowell provided commentary: